Depth, texture, intimacy and an uncommon sensitivity to architectural vernacular. These are among the trademarks of London designers Peter Barber Architects, whose international portfolio of built work includes an impressive collection of 21st-century brick housing complexes throughout the English capital. And in the borough of Southwark, the new residential block at 95 Peckham Road ranks as one of the best.
Clad in a warm buff brick, the building’s mass is broken up by a stepped profile and a somewhat irregular rhythm of fenestration. An interpretation of the “tenement mansion” common across London and throughout the UK, the project updates the typology with a modern flair.
At street level, the building features a series of terrace gardens that carve out a frontage for each home. Although the six-storey form stakes a substantial footprint, the articulation creates the sense of individual town homes, lending many of the 33 apartments – which include one, two and three-bedroom suites – a distinct presence.
A similar rhythm of recessed terraces and alternating windows also plays out across the upper levels with a series of set backs that artfully dissolve the building’s bulk. On all six levels, the dimensions of a townhouse frontage are replicated across the facade.
A narrow inner courtyard provides a quieter communal space for residents. The building’s dynamic frontage frames this plant-filled commons (which is animated by doors to ground-level homes) with deep terraces that jut out dramatically on every level.
On both sides of the building, a deft interplay of right angles and softer curves makes for a pleasantly varied facade, and a smattering of extruded windows adds another surprising accent to the muted brick.
“The architecture has a picturesque quality with the facades activated by numerous front doors, balconies, courtyards, roof terraces, balconies and large-feature picture windows,” says Peter Barber Architects. “The alternating height of the massing creates a notched profile that softens the building while the gradual stepping of the facade and roof profile means that the homes benefit from the use of a good-sized roof terrace or courtyard garden.”
While the window extrusions inject a subtle drama to the facade, the dimensions offer more usable outdoor spaces than most apartment balconies – which tend to be too narrow for dining tables and all but the most compact outdoor furniture. For residents, the design offers an intimate setting for private and communal outdoor life, fostering a neighbourly ambiance.
The Peckham Road complex combines substantial urban density with a distinctly neighbourly presence.